Skip to main content

tv   [untitled]    March 3, 2016 6:01pm-7:29pm EST

6:01 pm
6:02 pm
6:03 pm
6:04 pm
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. officer without objection. officer without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the be in order to calm the following neaments, 3336, johnson as modified; 329, durbin further at 5:30 p.m. march 7, the senate vote in relation to amendmentsed in the order lists and there be no second-degree amendments in order to those amendments prior to the vote. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: reserving the right to object, our respective
6:05 pm
cloakrooms have been working for this week to get a list of amendments that could get votes. as everyone knows, we have had on our side more than 60 amendments filed, so i want to hold my friend, who often spreed promise that we would have a robust amendment process. there have been objections from republicans to a number of amendments my senators want to offer. they want a few votes 0en a number of their amendments. first of all, everyone should understand that we're not holding up this bill. the leader has indicated he is going to file cloture today or tomorrow. i got that. we're not going to oppose cloture. but we're not going to have the other side determine what amendments should be offered. we should be able to pick what amendments we want to offer.
6:06 pm
and i don't think it's appropriate, for example, one of the amendments he chose is a senator running for reelection. is there some purpose to that? i think that we should have a process where we have alternating amendments and we pick our amendments. and so i would ask my colleague to agree to changing his unanimous consent request to -- it would be in order to call up amendments i mention now. an hour of debate on each amendment. we could certainly even shorten that time significantly prior to a vote on relation to amendments in the order lists and no second-degree amendments be in order prior to the votes. that would be durbin 3329, gillibrand 3345, markey 3384, who has been begging me for four days now get a vote on his amendment, blumenthal 3327, cardin 3421, mccaskill 337 are
6:07 pm
5, wyden 34023, schatz 3314, and markey 3328. one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 out of 60. the presiding officer: will the senator so moodfy his request? mr. mcconnell: mr. president, i object to the modification. mr. reid: i object -- the presiding officer: objection is heard to the modification. mr. reid: i object to the original request. the presiding officer: objection is heard to the original request. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, i might just point out that parntsly the -- parntsly the amendment that was -- apparently the amendment that was in my consent that was objectionable to the ove other side was a sime amendment from the senator of wisconsin to include a representative of the indian health service and pain management best practice interagency task force. mr. reid: mr. president, i understand i'm sure the importance of this amendment, but the other amendments are
6:08 pm
important also. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that it be in order to call up the following amendments 3334 kirk, 3336 johnson as modified, 3329 durbin, 3337 johnson as modified, 3354 gillibrand, 3336 lankford, markey-paul related to the treat act, 3407 mccain and 3408 mccain. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officermr. preside right to object -- mr. mcconnell: further at 5:30 monday, march 7, the senate vote in relation to the durbin amendment 3329 and johnson amendment 3336, that there be no second-degree amendments in order to these amendments prior to the votes. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. reid: reserving the right to object, mr. president, i don't like to admit this publicly, if i've earned
6:09 pm
anything from the republican leader and one of the things that i have learned is that it's not right to have the majority pick the votes of the minority. so i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. mcconnell: so, mr. president, i send a -- i send a cloture motion to the desk for the grassley substitute amendment number 3378. the presiding officer: clerk will report the motion. invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on senate amendment number 3378, the substitute amendment, to s. 524, a bill to authorize the attorney general to award grants to address the national epidemics of prescription opioid abuse and heroin abuse, signed by 17 senators as follows: mr. mcconnell: i ask consent that the reading of the names be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: mci send a cloture motion to the desk for
6:10 pm
the underlying bill s. 524. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: cloture motion: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on s. 524, a bill to authorize the attorney general to award grants to address the national epidemics of prescription opioid abuse and heroin use, signed by 1 senators. mr. mcconnell: i ask that the reading of the names be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask that the manned twitory request, to the cloture motions waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask that the filing deadline for first-degree amendments to s. 3378 and s. 524 be at 35:30 montana may, march 7. 123er without objection. mr. mcconnell: notwithstanding the provisions of rule 22, the cloture vote on the grassley amendment owe quur at 5:30 p.m. monday, march 7.
6:11 pm
the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the senate be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 370, s. 227 -6r. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 370, s. 276, a bill to amend title 489, united states code, to provide for enhanced safety and pipeline transportation and for other purposes. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent that the committee-reported substitute amendment be withdrawn, the fisher substitute amendment be agreed to, the bill as amended be read a third time and passed, and that the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i now ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to immediate consideration of s. res. 389. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution
6:12 pm
389, designating march 6, 2016, as the first annual world lympho de-ma day. the presiding officer: i is there objection? without objection. mr. mcconnell: there is no further debate on the resolution. the presiding officer: hearing no further debate, all in favor say aye. all those opposed, say no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the resolution is passed. mr. mcconnell: i further ask that the preamble be agreed to, the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i now ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to immediate consideration -- to the immediate consideration of s. res. 390, submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 390, designating march 3, 2016, as world wildlife day. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection.
6:13 pm
mr. mcconnell: i further ask the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motions to reconsider be laid on the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today it adjourn until 3:00 p.m. monday, march 7. follow be the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired you the journal of proceedings be approved to date, and the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day. following leader remarks, the senate be in a period of morning business until 4:00 p.m. with senators permitted to speak therein four up to ten minutes each. finally, at 4:00 p.m., the senate resume consideration of s.524. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: if ness to further business to come before the senate, i ask that it stand adjourned under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until di
6:14 pm
yield the floor. mr. grassley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. senator from iowa. this morning is that important subject that is for us, the bill that deals with the opioid epidemic, follow on heroin problem, a bill that reported out of committee unanimously, very important piece of legislation, but right now we have an unfortunate political gamesmanship that has overtaken some of my democratic colleagues at the very same time that everybody on the judiciary committee knows that we need to pass the comprehensive addiction and recovery act that goes by
6:15 pm
they acronym karau for short. it happens that the opioid epidemic is not a political gain it is a real problem out there. a massive hearing that we had in committee that demonstrates that i am very proud that the senate has taken the cara fill up after this public health crisis festered for so long while the senate was controlled by the democrats. tragically for example heroin overdose deaths more than tripled from 201022014. all the while the democratic leadership simply didn't make it a priority to move a bill like cara. it's a bipartisan bill that
6:16 pm
addresses the public health crisis of heroin and prescription opioid abuse. through the hard work of many on both sides of the aisle because it's a bipartisan bill it passed out of our committee as i said you can't say so often unanimously because everybody at the grassroots of america knows everything here is always partisan between republicans and democrats. not when it comes to the opioid issue or an a lot of other issues. this spill came out of committee unanimously and we ought to get it to the house of representatives as fast as we can into the president. just a few weeks after they came out of committee here we are working on it, an opportunity to pass it. this reflects the senate working
6:17 pm
in a very constructive bipartisan way on behalf of the american people and the people that are addicted to heroin and opioids. and this is very much unlike the way the senate acted on the democrats controlled. this issue is not bull -- brought up but for political reasons that is not a narrative that some democrats want the american people to hear and so we are having this game today. yesterday there was a manufactured controversy over the amount of funding. of course the opioid crisis demands resources and significant resources are being directed to it both by the appropriations committee and the programs laid out in this bill before us right now. in fact, according to the office of national drug control policy,
6:18 pm
the appropriations act passed in december provides more than $400 million in funding specifically to address the opioid epidemic. this is an increase of more than $100 million over the previous year. none of that money has been spent yet. all of that money is still available today. this bill authorizes so many activities that combat the crisis but it was never intended to appropriate funding. that is what we have appropriation committees for. that is why we have an appropriation process. through the appropriation process, we can evaluate competing priorities and evaluating trade-offs and in the end in sure that adequate
6:19 pm
resources are directed to this epidemic while at the same time maintaining fiscal discipline. so i am glad that the senate rejected that attempt to bring gamesmanship into the debate over ways to improve this bill. that vote happened yesterday. now, the minority in the senate, the democrats, are setting up additional procedural rollbacks. we tried to send an additional vote this morning to move this very important bill along so we can help the people of the various states and particularly new england solve this opioid addiction and heroin problem, also a problem in the eastern part of my state. but somehow the democrats wouldn't agree and because we
6:20 pm
have this bill on the floor i also asked the democrats on the committee to hold a weekly judiciary committee business meeting over here in the senate capitol building in stead of in the committee meeting right off the floor of this house or the senate as we do quite regularly particularly when we have so much business here. so that was a routine accommodation that i ask them to make similar to the accommodations that i gave to them when we had a hearing scheduled earlier this week on the eb-5 immigration bill when they asked to cancel that because this bill was on the floor of the united states senate. so i accommodated them that but they gave me the accommodation of holding this meeting on the
6:21 pm
floor of the united states senate, so we could take up the business of voting out some judges. there wasn't any legislation on our agenda, but we could have voted out some judges. but how often do we hear the judiciary committee is not voting judges. we had a chance to do that probably in a ten-minute meeting right in the president's room just a few feet off from where i'm standing right now. but i gave them accommodation but now i'm running into trouble because i canceled a meeting because we got this important bill on the floor of the united states senate. i understand that they are protesting the judiciary's action on the supreme court nomination. which nomination we couldn't even possibly consider as the president doesn't send it out.
6:22 pm
so i imagine that this is just the first of several problems that we are going to have in the next few weeks. while they do that this morning, i want you to know that i'm going to be here on the senate floor trying to get this very important opioid addiction bill heroin addiction bill passed and i will be thinking about so many people that cara will help once this bill is signed by the president. at our judiciary committee hearing that we had on this very important problem we heard from nick lillard, chief of the manchester new hampshire police department. his officers will benefit from the training the bill authorizes to use naloxone a drug that can save lives after an overdose.
6:23 pm
at that hearing we also heard from a courageous ohio woman who lost a daughter to the overdose and found a support group for those in recovery. her group made progress from this legislation's grants aimed at building community recovery. i will be thinking about the many iowans that i have heard about who have been impacted by this crisis. i spoke earlier this week about kim brown of davenport who lost her son andy to an overdose. she now speaks out across the state about the epidemic. there is carla richards of walkie iowa who lost her daughter anna to an overdose as well. she founded an organization to
6:24 pm
promote awareness called and those warriors. there are all kinds of tragic stories that every senator in this body that highlight the rationale behind this legislation and the 400 million dollars waiting to be spent to overcome the opioid addiction. and there is a seed of hope in many of them hoping that we can act to address this epidemic each in our own way. i will be thinking of these stories today as we try to move cara one step closer to becoming law. why would a bill that got out of committee unanimously have this sort of shenanigans going on on the floor of the united states senate at a time when people are dying. 44,000 people in recent statistics, statistical year,
6:25 pm
more than the automobile accidents and crimes together add up to. a real problem. we need to get this bill passed and we are working on accommodating amendments and moving it forward. it's not the time to go slow approach that we are seeing already on the floor of the united states senate. i yield the floor. >> the senator from vermont. >> engage in it called quake with other members of the judiciary for 30 minutes. c without objection. >> thank you. mr. president one must fully understand where perfectly willing to have even though we don't hold the judiciary committee every week as we used to, perfectly fine to have one
6:26 pm
that is not in the backroom open to the press to see it. it's important to have such meetings open if anybody wants to have it. it's unfortunate that we have had with the supreme court vacancies there have been in a closed-door backroom meeting and that is with a small handful of republican senators decided with republican leader to say the president should not follow this constitutional duty and dominate the supreme court nominee. and the unprecedented fashion. the senate judiciary committee would not follow its constitutional obligation of advise and consent and that's closed-door meetings.
6:27 pm
they say they will uphold the constitution so help me god. we have had enough closed-door meetings especially closed-door meetings that tell us to violate the sentence so help me god. >> i think it's important that we have these meetings since the untimely passing of justice antonin scalia. certainly there's a disagreement over how to move forward in filling the supreme court vacancy that the american people want us to do our job. we should have an open -- press releases which may or may not accurately represent those meetings. the american people deserve to have us do our job to discuss
6:28 pm
and debate the committee's next steps in doing our constitutional duty. now, last night the senior senator from iowa decided to postpone this meeting rather than have it the public. now we have to wait another week before the committee can sit down in public so the american people can't discuss an issue that's so important. and the move to postpone today's meeting given last week's meeting should happen without participation of all the committee members in a row open to the public showing us doing our jobs was also postponed so we didn't meet, have a meeting in public. we were doing our jobs. last week the committee's republicans chose to meet behind closed doors. the public couldn't follow and
6:29 pm
without any democrats so we could hatch a partisan plan to obstruct any effort to consider the next nominee to the supreme court and do that no matter what the constitution says. there is no consultation for any democrats serving on the committee. there is no public discussion of any kind. certainly in my 40 years here when the republicans have been in control of the senate are democrats i cannot think of any precedent for this kind of closed door discussion of how we avoid doing our job. 11 republican senators decided the senate would abdicate its responsibility and block all of us from fulfilling our constitutional obligation or devising consent. it blocks all of us from doing our job. the supreme court nominations are unique priorities of the
6:30 pm
judiciary committee. since i served in the senate i have voted on every member currently on the supreme court and several that have since retired. judiciary committee has always held hearings on supreme court nominees and have always reported them for consideration. where i took over as chairman of the judiciary committee in 2001 george w. bush was president. i did not agree with him what the administration was already doing and had discussions with president bush to tell them that. even with those reservations i wrote a letter to senator hatch who was then the ranking member memorializing an agreement which republicans gave their word to
6:31 pm
follow. we reached the house judiciary committee to consider supreme court nominees. that letter that we wrote senator hatch and i come he gave his word and i gave mine, we wrote the judiciary committees to report the supreme court nominees and once the committee has completed its considerations. this has been true in cases where supreme court nominees were opposed by a majority of the judiciary committee closed quote. senator hatch and i gave up more than that in the republican leader at the time were the letter to the congressional record to ensure was available to all americans to see. and i took the word of republicans in this body that they believed what they were saying. to show the long understanding of the senate judiciary
6:32 pm
committees amendment to open their process even when the majority does not agree with the opposing parties precedent. they have priority of the judiciary committee supreme court nominees is to exemplify both consideration of two of the most contentious dominations to the court. in both instances than chairman biden move the nomination to the full senate even though a majority of the senate judiciary committee did not support the nomination. in other words the judiciary did not support the nomination we still in keeping with our word moved it forward. and robert bork's case the committees vote to report the nomination favorably by a vote of 5-9. at the time the reagan administration was quietly asking him to withdraw his name but still he wanted to have a
6:33 pm
vote in the committee then voted to report his nomination with an unfavorable recommendation. he was voted on favorably by a vote of 9-5 so they could consider it. some democrats voted for it. eight democrats voted for it. some republicans voted for it and many republicans voted against it. he had his boat and clarence thomas's case the committee voted for his nomination favorably. that failed by a vote of 7-7. the committee then voted, even though under our normal practice having failed to get a favorable accommodation, a nomination to return to the president we then still even though it failed to get a favorable vote and was
6:34 pm
returned we have voted to report his nomination without recommendation and by 13-1 we have voted to do that. to give them a chance to be heard on the floor. events were a majority committee member opposed as was the case with robert worker clarence thomas we have not denied the full senate or the american people the opportunity to debate and consider the supreme court nominee. we are not going to say the senate should do its job. the judiciary committee has a strong tradition of transparency which i remember when i first came on their with one of the most conservative senators in this chamber. i believe the american people like to see and hear what we are
6:35 pm
doing and they have a right to know that we are doing our job. they have a right to weigh in on the decisions we make. nowhere is transparency matter more than a lifetime appointment to the highest court in our land you can't decide that question of somebody going on the highest court of the land with a lifetime appointment and the small group behind closed doors. that's not doing our job. there is no place for backroom deals. public confirmation hearings are a vital part of our democracy. it's not just us. public hearings are how americans meet the nominees. public hearings allow every american the opportunity to see this person is decisions may have a lasting impact on their life. ultimately this small group of republican members of the committee meet behind closed doors unilaterally decided last week to reject a long-standing
6:36 pm
invitation to public hearings. in doing so they denied americans, all americans republicans and democrats alike a chance to participate in the consideration of a nominee. they deny americans the chance to have us do our job. the judiciary committee is one of the busiest in the senate. he considered some of the most consequential decisions affecting american people. we are brought here to do our job and work together for our constituents, we can achieve great things. this is what happened three years ago. the senate passed conference of immigration before. after six hearings and three weeks of mark-ups many lasting very late at night each of 18 senators serving on the committee participate in the process to draft that legislation.
6:37 pm
mr. chairman everybody who had a number to bring it up could go back and forth, one democratic in one republican. we did this for half a day late at night. all in public, all covered by television. not all of us support the bill but all of us have a chance to debate and amend it even the staunchest opponents of the legislation including some in the chamber right now. the transparent and fair process for consideration of that bell. a vermont editorial at the time called our committee proceedings because everybody a chance to participate, because the american people can see what we are doing because we are doing our job. they call that quote a lesson in democracy. i think it's time for a refresher course. the legal issue before the supreme court is significant.
6:38 pm
it's important that our constitution of democracy cannot be overstated. nor can the responsibility of the president to uphold his constitutional duty to nominate but the judiciary committee's responsibilities to fairly consider a nominee to serve on the highest court in the land. so with deep concern i come to the floor today. i would urge my friend the chairman and all members of the judiciary committee to renew their commitment to transparency i ask you with withhold your judgment right i ask those who met in closed doors to withhold your judgment until you can review the record of whoever the president nominates. i ask you give the next nominee of the supreme court a fair hearing as we have done in this body.
6:39 pm
the american people expect us to do our job. senator kuntz is on the floor. the distinguished senator from delaware the ranking member up with subcommittee and i asked senator owens threw the chair of course what is your understanding of the role of the senate judiciary committee with regard to the next supreme court nominee? >> the senator from delaware. >> mr. president does want to emphasize how important i think the world is of the senate judiciary committee. as many know my predecessor now the vice president of former chairman of the senate judiciary committee as my good friend and colleague from the state of vermont's just reminded us there is a long and important history of the senate judiciary committee that i think bears repeating.
6:40 pm
since its formation a century ago the senate judiciary committee has provided a hearing , a vote are both for every single supreme court nominee. the only exception being those that go straight to the floor because the confirmations were supported so widely. i also think there's an important point if i could just briefly touch on in that even in those instances where i think -- were nominated not enjoyed support even in those instances cited by the senator from vermont where the majority voted against the confirmation. that confirmation proceeded to the floor of the senate to ensure advice and consent is their constitutional duty to be carried for. if i might ask for the forbearance of a senator from vermont for one moment. i want to set the record straight about what my friend and predecessor than senator now vice president biden actually said in a floor speech back in
6:41 pm
1992 a floor speech that has been widely cited and evidence of some new set of so-called biden rule that is somehow a name for the obstructionism we see a refusal to even meet with a supreme court nominee let alone give them a fair hearing. i just want to take this moment because then senator biden had been taken out of context. he gave a somewhat long speech. there was no supreme court vacancy at the time. he was simply observing what might happen if there were to be a vacancy and while he did early in his speech some comments have now been used he also gave at the end of his speech a section i want to read. to quote directly i believe so long as the public continues to split this confidence between the branches, compromise is the responsible course for both the white house and the senate.
6:42 pm
therefore said ben sherman biden i stand by my position that if the president, then president bush, can cooperate with the senate to monitor his selection after consultation and his nominee may enjoy broad support as did justice kennedy and souter. let me make a concluding remark that what the end biden did speaks more loudly even than what he said. his record is chairman of the senate judiciary committee i believe is unmistakable. in case after case each held timely hearings even in the election year for 1988 had considered and confirmed for judicial nominees as late as september in a presidential election year voting in favor of justice kennedy and justice souter nominated by republican presidents and in his speech in the section i just quoted i think he sent a clear request to then president george h.w. bush
6:43 pm
to work with the senate sent the nominee and i will consider supporting them. irish the chairman and ranking member of us who are members of this important committee to follow the actual biden rule of working across the aisle by consulting and by offering a fair open and timely hearing or any nominee that should be proffered by her president. >> mr. president. >> the senator from vermont. >> i think the senator from delaware for clearing that up and i also note in a meeting where we don't discuss meetings with the president because there has been so much reported from the two republicans who are there the distinguished senator from iowa and the distinguished republican leader vice president wyden was also there and he made very clear what he meant so
6:44 pm
there is no question. he also did point out that through september, 68 of the republican president's nominees went through i think with president bush, about the same number, 67, 68. the court of appeals judges as well as the district judges would see the double standard. they have allowed only 16. it is just past due -- facts do speak louder than words so i thank the distinguished senator from delaware for clearing up that matter. i know the distinguished senator from ohio also has something to say and i would yield to him. >> the senator from rhode island. i think the ranking member for
6:45 pm
that courtesy. the constitution in article ii, section 2 says quite clearly that the presidential mom and eight a candidate when there is a vacancy in the united states supreme court and i would like the record of this discussion to reflect that the term shall as defined in marion webster dictionary and the relevance definition is a used to express a command or exhortation and b used for broad regulations and directives to express what is mandatory. the president of the united states now under the constitution that we are all to uphold has a mandatory duty and i think it is important that he accomplished it and nominate a candidate. i would ask my colleagues to imagine if there were another
6:46 pm
mandatory duty of the president of the united states that this president refused to perform. imagine the cavalcade of republican senators to the studios of "fox news" to decry and condemn this president for that all mission. this should be no different. the president must and will do its constitutional duty. if he does that then the constitutional burden of duty moves from the president to the united states senate and we will then have a choice whether to do our constitutional duty whether to follow regular order that so many of us have articulated as an important goal, whether to follow the precedence of previous nominees, whether to
6:47 pm
act fairly, whether we are going to be an organization here, an institution that will prejudge a nominee before we even know who he or she is. pre-judge is at the heart of prejudice. it is not a good thing for the senate to be doing. and finally we will have to decide then what example we want to set to the rest of the world. a country that follows the regular order established in the constitution have institution to do their duty or a country that will bend, twist and dodge those responsibilities because of the demand of immediate politics. .. mr. president, i
6:48 pm
thank the senator from rhode island. of course he's a former attorney general of his state, former u.s. attorney, well familiar with what the constitution requires, and i appreciate him urging the united states senate to do its job and follow the constitution. mr. president, i'd ask, at this point i'm going to yield to the distinguished senior senator from new york. mr. schumer: i thank my mr. schumer: i thank my >> i think my colleague and our ranking member of the judiciary committee, not only hers friendship but great work on this issue. now, just as the president has a constitutional responsibility to name a nominee to the court, the senate has its constitutional duty to
6:49 pm
provide consent on the nominee. it is our job, the job of this body, specifically the judiciary committee to hold hearings on a nominee. this chart says america says to senate republicans do your job. tomorrow we might be saying americans to the judiciary committee, do your job. the american people expect us to do our jobs comeau what we are supposed to be doing. mr. president, the judiciary committee should be meeting right now at this moment as we do every thursday. this would have been the 1st opportunity for all members to debated in public the republican chairman's unilateral decision to issue a blanket hold on an unnamed supreme court nominee. we whole judiciary meetings all the time while
6:50 pm
legislation is being debated on the floor. there were no vote scheduled. every thursday scheduled. every thursday we do it. we know why they are not. they are afraid to discuss the issue. they cannot in public debate when the argument that we should not be doing our job, when the argument that the judiciary committee should not be holding hearings. and so we have the meeting abruptly canceled at the last minute, not because of a debate on the floor but because people did not want to debate the issue of the supreme court. let's face it, that is the truth. democrats command we are not asking the senate or judiciary committee to be a rubber stamp. one more point on the judiciary committee. we are asking our republican colleagues to simply do their jobs, hold this body
6:51 pm
and the judiciary committee and some regard. we can disagree on politics, on a nominee, but hold the hearing, hold the vote. that is what our constituents sent constituents sent us here to do, and i remind my dear friend from iowa what his own website, the committee on the judiciary website says is its job, pointed out by senator durbin a few days ago but i think bears repeating. this, mr. president, is a copy of the website of the judiciary committee. here is part of what it says when it comes to nominations. when a vacancy occurs in the supreme court, the president of the united states is given authority under article two of the united states constitution to nominate a person to fill a vacancy. the nomination is referred to the united states senate, where the senate judiciary
6:52 pm
committee holds a hearing with a nominee provides testimony and response to questions from members of the panel. traditionally this is, again, the website of the judiciary committee, traditionally the committee refers to the nomination -- refers the nomination to the full senate for a vote. this is the webpage of the senate judiciary committee this is not you hold the hearing when you want to, not when you like the nominee but when you don't, not only when your party has the presidency. it says, and i will read it again, the nomination is, not may be, is referred to the united states senate where the senate judiciary committee holds a hearing with the nominee provides testimony in response to questions from members of the panel.
6:53 pm
it does not say the senate judiciary might hold the hearing, could at its when. there are no qualifiers. and so, mr. president, we ought to be holding a hearing and debating whether to do so now on thursday at 10:00 a.m. as we have done week after week after week with other important issues being debated on the floor of the united states senate. we can do both. does not have the funding i would like to see. we can meet in the judiciary committee. so, i do not understand the decision by the chairman of the judiciary committee, the same reverence that i do, the same reverence the ranking member and former chairman does for its profound and historic standing in the senate. i would like to hear directly from the chairman
6:54 pm
about the thinking behind his decision to unilaterally decide that this commission will have no voice and ability. earlier this week the chairman indicated there are some members of the committee majority who might like to see us hold hearings. he said, and i quote, as any chairman ought to do come ii went to the members of my committee. they all agreed with me. for different reasons, not just because i am jam. some have reluctance, but all signed. some had reluctance, but all signed. the chairman indicated he would consider breaking ranks with the party leader by meeting with the potential nominee, circuit court judge jane kelly from his home state of iowa. he was reluctant to issue the same across the board denial. i understand his reluctance, and he is a good man. he comes from the heartland of america and represents
6:55 pm
its finest values, but i regret to say and thinks it is politics pulling him and i hope he will return because he is a good man, and i understand the reluctance of senators to sign the letter. it is not what senators came to washington to do. the senators no that folks out there want them to do their job, and this policy has been castigated. almost every poll shows the majority of americans favor action. it is not right to do with the committee is doing command i sincerely hope the chairman will reconsider his position. if republicans truly respect the constitution they should follow it and consider a nomination from the sitting president rather than play political games. i yield back to my dear friend joe our outstanding
6:56 pm
leader on the judiciary committee. >> the senator from vermont. >> i realized that time is expired, but i ask unanimous consent, yield the floor for my colloquy. five minutes by the distinguished senior senator from connecticut and he five minutes by the distinguished senior senator from minnesota. >> i am in the chair and probably cannot participate, but i want to make clear that i want the manager of the bill to speak. >> mr. president, can we have regular order? >> i am exercising my prerogative. if i don't have the prerogative, then i object.
6:57 pm
i recognize the senator from north carolina. >> mr. president, may i make a motion unanimous consent request? >> the chair recognizes the senator from north carolina. >> thank you, mr. president. i did not have any intention to speak today, but one of the blessings of being a freshman member as you get the opportunity to reside and here the arguments going through the chamber and discussion about the scotus nomination. but let's take a look at what is going on. over the last 24 hours some four people have died from a drug overdose. four deaths associated with drug overdoses than in car accidents last year. what is going on?
6:58 pm
there was an opioid epidemic. majority of the house of representatives. the epidemic is growing. and yet there is no action. and i think we need to hold hostage the discussions we have with the minority on scotus. >> have a nominee. plenty of time and committee and on the floor between the minority and majority. in the meantime, what are you going to tell two
6:59 pm
friends of mine who over the last week when heard my speech on the senate floor come to me and say thank you for losing this bill. i lost my son a year and a half ago. thank you for helping us increase the visibility. hold up the bill will you tell the 1st responders will we tell the law enforcement officers trying to help people who have succumbed to addiction and opioid abuse? what are you going to tell the parents who are struggling, who need help with education, who need help with their incarcerated children who may have to come -- succumb to addiction, did a wrong thing and now they need to be rehabilitated, saved. at some point we need to recognize that we need to do
7:00 pm
things separately, it is disgraceful to hold up the spillspillover a genuine disagreement that we will have for months. i am one of the senators assigned a letter. i do not believe that we should here a scotus nomination, but i'm not here to talk about that today. i am here to talk about saving lives, addressing the addiction problem that is growing, the sad heartbreaking stories of families across this nation who are starving for help. this bill helps. this bill appropriates over $100 million that can be spent between now and the end of september to save lives. if i come to the floor tomorrow i will be talking about four more lives that could have been saved if we would just do our job. let's do our job. >> mr. president, i would ask my colleague to yield to a question.
7:01 pm
>> yes, sir. i yield. >> i appreciate the courtesy. and to understand just what you're saying, a week ago i held in my arms a father whose son had committed suicide waiting for treatment, so i understand the importance of the bill before us, but my question is, why can we not do both things at once? the senators from north carolina have sat with me all we debated important bills on the floor and in the judiciary committee, and all of a sudden at the last minute the rug is pulled out from under that meeting. it was scheduled. our bill was scheduled to be debated, and we could meet in the judiciary committee. i am sure my colleagues will admit, the issue with the supreme court is important, too. can you explain to me why we could not do both?
7:02 pm
no votes were scheduled. i am right about that, correct? so explain how one delays the other. >> mr. president, i was speaker of the house in north carolina for four years. i have no problem with going to a committee meeting and explaining why, but that is not what i am talking about. over the next 2424 hours for more people will die of overdoses in north carolina. i'm trying to figure out what i say to that mother and father. things just got gummed up because we decided to connect to unrelated issues, one having to do with the supreme court nomination, which is critically important, but what more important than saving the lives of people we know will die. data is compelling. when we get washington working, and you do not do it by playing chess. i am a father, someone who
7:03 pm
has spent a lot of time in my state, and i think wei think we have reached a point where we need to get serious. people are absolutely costing lives by failing to move on this bill. i like a good scrap. looking forward to the positions being taken on how to dispose of nominations from the presidents. happy to do that. i want this bill passed. i want to go back to the people in north carolina and say we are doing everything we can. thank you, mr. president. >> mr. president, we were supposed to be here. we need to make it clear.
7:04 pm
you decided to have the meeting off the floor so we could move judicial nominations. >> what we need to do is get back to the work of exposing amendments and getting into the house and the presidents that is what i'm talking about. the limitations are numerous , and we are creating more vast. we delayed by six hours and are responsible for lives in north carolina that we can save. i apologize if i am angry, but when lives are involved it is time to do our jobs, dispose of amendments.
7:05 pm
>> will my colleague yield for aa question? >> is the senator yield? >> yes, sir. >> isn't it through we have had debates in committee while important discussions have been carried on here in other instances, true or false? >> true, but itrue, but i do not see the relevance. >> with the gentleman yield? >> if i may completely answer the question, that is the problem with this process. i hear that. i see the kabuki dance, but i want to dispose of the amendments and do our job. let's do our job to pass legislation and save lives. i get that we need to do the other thing, but let's get to the task at hand and do our job. i will stay here all weekend long. why don't we focus on that? i get the procedural issues.
7:06 pm
i'm perfectly happy to do that. i want this bill passed. i want members to come down, pass amendments, drawdown like you and send the bill to the president's desk. let's do our jobs. i am prepared. i hope my colleagues on the other side are, too. >> thank you. >> who seeks recognition? >> the senator from vermont. >> held a lot of hearings on opioids, brought together law enforcement, medical community, parents, the faith community, and physicians in my state on the opioid matter come i am perfectly happy. they want to stay here today, tomorrow, the next
7:07 pm
day and go forward. >> mr. president. >> will my colleague yield for one more question? >> certainly. >> i would just ask you, have we not been able in the past to hold meetings in the judiciary committee and debate important bills on the floor? >> we did a hate crimes legislation on the floor at the same time we were doing a supreme court nomination. >> one more question to my colleague, has the leader filed cloture yet which would move this to a conclusion? to the best of your knowledge has the leader filed cloture? if he hasn't, we are not holding anything up i would suggest to my colleague if he wants to move the built quickly he needs to move to the leader and ask to file
7:08 pm
cloture. >> it is my understanding the culture has not been filed. i would agree. i will stay friday, saturday, sunday, vote, pass it. i would hope to put money in and so we are not passing something symbolically without teeth, but i would ask to be able to yield. >> can i -- >> the senator from iowa. >> i would like to ask the senator from vermont a question, if he would take it. >> i will yield to answer the question. >> mr. president, i have heard what they said about the meeting being canceled today because we could have held a meeting off of the floor and voted three judges
7:09 pm
out. somehow that interfered with what they want to do in the judiciary committee meeting. i asked for an accommodation , i asked the ranking member. the same accommodation i gave his side only cancel hearing earlier this week, and the hearing obviously does not take the same time away from the floor as a markup might. consequently, i am asking the ranking member if that accommodation is not worth the accommodation i asked today. >> the senators well aware of my concerns. and the supreme court
7:10 pm
nomination, this is the on apples and oranges. no comparison. the republicans have a closed-door meeting decided should be no debate or discussion of a supreme court nomination. there is no way to have a closed-door meeting off the floor. would not pass the giggle test. all of us. lately criticized. this is anything but routine. i would be able to yield,
7:11 pm
senior senator from minnesota. >> objection? >> thank you, mr. president. >> i am always honored to be in this chamber and feel immensely privileged to participate in any debate. i must say, the average american listening to the colloquy that has been conducted just within the past few minutes would regard it somewhat in disbelief because the presiding officer is absolutely right that the people of our state are literally dying as a result of the heroin and opioid epidemic that has created a public health crisis of untold proportion, and this
7:12 pm
body should and hopefully will pass a bill that will help to address the public health crisis. only a down payment, only a 1st step, and only effective if accompanied by an emergency supplemental that is necessary to provide the real resources to address this problem. but this body is capable of passing a bill and still debating whether there should be a hearing and vote on the president supreme court nominee. the voting on the comprehensive addiction and recovery act is within the control of the majority. that is a simple fact. facts are stubborn things.
7:13 pm
the fact is that can crawl of the votes on that measure are within the prerogative of the majority. in the meantime the majority also has the power and authority to say that we will have a hearing and a vote on the president's supreme court nominee. we will do our job. that is what senators are elected to do. that is why we have come to the floor of the united states senate to say the united states senate must do his job. it has a constitutional duty. it has no discretion whether it should wait to a politically opportune time to do its job, whether it is hearing from the base politically, it should do its job when the president submits his nominee. what may be most regrettable
7:14 pm
about the debate it demonstrates political machination, game blaming that threatens the supreme court is an institution, endangers credibility and trust. the supreme court has no armies or police force. they depend on the enforceability of decisions on credibility and trust, and when it is demeaned in the eyes of the public, when it stature is diminished, when it is dragon do the political graph of a partisan debate and partisan paralysis, it's credibility and trust and it stature are vastly diminished, and its
7:15 pm
powers and institutions are endangered. i am dismayed that these machinations tend to diminish and mean this institution where work for a year as a law clerk, where argued cases cause attorney general, where was yesterday on the steps. with the american people should feel, higher than the ordinary give-and-take in contention that occurs on the floor and throughout the political institutions. to even consider have a
7:16 pm
hearing, vote, meeting. >> elections have consequences. obstruction has consequences, too. and the failure to consider these nominees -- >> your time is expired. >> means that critical decisions will be left undecided. i urge my colleagues to enable us to have a vote. may i have just one more minute? >> without objection. >> thank you. >> ii want to close with the words of justice scalia. who said, when he was asked to recuse himself, that leaving the court potentially equally divided, that a four to four vote was
7:17 pm
to be avoided if possible. and he said, with a justices it raises the possibility that by reason of a tie vote the court will find itself unable to resolve the significant legal issue presented by the case. even one unnecessary recusal impairs the functioning of the court. even one unnecessary and i urge all of us to move forward with the presence nominee when it is made. >> madam president. >> the senator from vermont. >> the senior senator from connecticut, one of the most noted attorneys general of his state. also has that very unique,
7:18 pm
one of the most highly sought positions, clerk to a number of the us supreme court, and in many ways people that have a closer view. something that none of us should ignore. yield to the distinguished senior senator from pennsylvania. >> the discussion this morning on why the judiciary committee was prepared to meet, the same way we often meet on there is just maybe five minutes of business to meet off of the senate floor so that we can do both the work of the entire united states senate and the work
7:19 pm
of the judiciary committee. that happens often. that is the accommodation i ask of the minority party of the judiciary committee. to do that. the same way that they asked me to accommodate them on a hearing that i had scheduled for earlier this week on the eb immigration issue. members of the democratic caucus of the judiciary committee felt that they should not have that hearing when this very important opioid addiction bill is before the united states senate, 44,000 lives lost in one year because of that addiction, and the immediacy of legislation to solve the problem. i did not get that.
7:20 pm
and so what we heard, holding up the opioid bill was the rationale about having a debate about the next nominee to the supreme court, nominee that has not been made yet, so i will come to the floor now to respond to arguments my friends made on the other side. can't go unanswered. even though i shouldi should probably have a long list of reactions to what they said. first of all, we are going to have a debate. we're going to be based
7:21 pm
whether or not the american people want another justice based on what is in. based on the constitution and law. previous judge injustices nominations have said that he was look for empathy for people that came before the court, having empathy for people to come before the court means you're supposed to do something different than what judges are supposed to do because judges are supposed to look at the facts of the case.
7:22 pm
if it isn't based on fact or law whenever government of men and women, not one of law. you get back to something people have to think about, as we have planned, as senator biden said and 92 or senator schumer in 2007, you know, way long time before the lame-duck presidents, that those presidents should not appoint a person to the supreme court until after the election. so we have an opportunity to
7:23 pm
have a national debate, not only on who will be the next justice but this whole debate about whether or not we're going to have justices who have empathy as opposed to the letter of the constitution. then on the 2nd point we have heard complaining around here, and i suspect we will hear more that the senate judiciary republicans met and then made public decision not to hold hearings on the supreme court nomination during a heated presidential election year. give me a break. we made the decision based upon history. and our intention to protect the ability of the american people to make their voices heard. we did not play games anymore than senator biden
7:24 pm
in 1992 when he gave the speech in which he said that we should not have that lame-duck president. for the same thing from 2,007 before the american constitution society. eighteen months before george w. bush was going out of office that george w. bush should not appoint a president if there is a vacancy on the supreme court. so, that is a historical approach, at least history of the last 30 years. very plain and open, both by democrats and now republicans taking the same tone. that way people can make voices heard but also on
7:25 pm
this whole of whether the supreme court ought to be a legislating body making lower interpreting it. and when we, as i said, did not not play games and made that decision and immediately it was made public. the benefit of the other side. i don't remember being invited to the secret meetings that the democrats held november 2013. and invoke the nuclear option so they could pack the court of appeals with three judges. we reduced the numbers so we
7:26 pm
could save the taxpayer money. the most underworked court of the circuits today, but when it was divided,divided, for liberals and for conservatives, and they review the president's executive orders, this president wished to ensure he had enough judges to let him, the dc district court. so i have also -- that is why they have the nuclear option. the approval of the judges.
7:27 pm
they ought to approve the 60 vote rule because the court is underworked. and then i keep hearing a claim that chairman biden should be praised for how he handled the episode. i saw what happened. i saw how he was smeared, and that seat remained open and was filled early in 1988. if that is the other side's argument i think we all know how weak their position is. finally, let me say this, i said yesterday and will say it again, the other side knows the nominee will not be confirmed.
7:28 pm
the only reason they are complaining is because they want to make the process as political as possible. we are not going to politicize the process. >> c-span washington journal live. director of policy discussing a recent judiciary committee on issues of privacy, national security, and encryption and author and historian talks about the comparison. be sure to watch at 7:00 p.m. eastern

11 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on